Calif. Murderer Arsonist Sentence to 33 Years to Life

June 6, 2013
He shot and killed a man, and torched the house to get rid of evidence.

June 06--Convicted murderer and arsonist Joseph Duran Burciaga was sentenced to 33 years to life in prison for actions the judge said "indicates a totally senseless display of inhumanity."

Joseph Duran Burciaga, 33, showed no reaction as Judge Gary T. Friedman imposed sentence.

Earlier, Burciaga nodded his head and looked away as the mother of victim Frank Adams berated him for killing her son. Windy Avalos-Kajita told Burciaga she hopes he's haunted by the image of her son's eyes for the rest of his life.

"That was a senseless killing," Avalos-Kajita said. "Was it worth it?"

She repeatedly asked that question of Burciaga before his attorney, Richard Terry, interrupted and Friedman told Avalos-Kajita that Burciaga doesn't have to answer any questions. The mother said she just wants him to ponder that question while sitting in prison.

Prosecutor Ken Russell said Adams was killed as a result of a dispute over a woman. Adams was a friend of the person who Burciaga had the dispute with, and he killed Adams because he thought Adams was meeting with him on behalf of that person.

Russell praised Bakersfield Police Officer James Moore for conducting a thorough investigation that turned up witnesses and others willing to testify against Burciaga.

"If it hadn't been for the investigation of Detective Moore this case wouldn't have gone to trial," Russell said.

Prosecutors said Burciaga killed Adams Oct. 15, 2010 when Adams went to the 8000 block of Big Bear Street in south Bakersfield to check on a friend. Adams' wife and daughter waited in a car parked outside.

His wife called police when Adams didn't return. Police searched the house but couldn't find him.

Prosecutors said Burciaga killed Adams before police arrived and put his body in a pool storage box in the backyard. He set fire to the house three days later to destroy evidence of the murder.

Burciaga later arranged to have Adams' body dumped in a sump near Copus Road southwest of Bakersfield. The body was found eight days later and it was determined Adams died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The body was identified through DNA testing, Russell said.

Burciaga fled to Mexico, but was caught trying to re-enter the U.S. on Jan. 31, 2011 at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego. He was taken into custody after U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents ran his driver's license and saw there was a warrant for his arrest.

He was convicted April 18 of murder and arson.

Copyright 2013 - The Bakersfield Californian

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